Simple Tips to Help Prevent a Virus
This cold and flu season is proving to be a tough one. Here are some simple tricks you can use to optimize your health and practice preventative care so that you can avoid illness.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It sounds simple but (let’s be honest) many of us wash for 5 seconds and then move on. So, perhaps your hand-washing game could stand to improve. Click here for tips from the CDC on how to properly wash your hands. (Spoiler: Many of us are doing it wrong!)
Hand-washing is especially important to do after you have been in a public place. Also, make sure you clean your hands every time after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Avoid touching your face
As best you can, avoid touching your ears, nose and mouth, especially with unwashed hands. When you touch your face, you can transfer germs from your hands to the mucosal membranes found around the face. A virus can enter your body in this way.
It’s strangely difficult not to touch your face throughout the day, but being mindful of it will help prevent viruses from affecting your respiratory system and causing illness.
Stay home if you’re sick
Many people feel an obligation to work even when they’re sick. They might fear letting down co-workers, not progressing on projects, or worry that taking time off will reflect poorly on their work ethic.
However, it’s important to stay home when you’re not feeling well because by “powering through,” you’re only risking infecting others. Also, you probably won’t be very productive when you’re ill anyway. Instead, take the time to rest and recover, so that you can more quickly return to your normal, productive self. Additionally, try to avoid any outings when you’re not feeling well, except to get medical care.
Carry hand sanitizer with you
Hand sanitizer can be helpful in cases where hand-washing isn’t a convenient option. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Cover coughs and sneezes
We learned the skill of the elbow sneeze back in elementary school, but many of us have forgotten to practice it. For a refresher, make sure you cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use the inside of your elbow or a tissue, then immediately wash your hands with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up. Sneezing or coughing directly into your hands or into the air transmits germs, and risks someone else getting sick.
Clean and disinfect
Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces daily, such as doorknobs, light switches, handles, phones, and desks. We touch these surfaces all the time and they can easily transfer germs around. According to the CDC, a virus such as the flu can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Regular cleaning and disinfecting household objects reduces the likelihood of spread.
Build up your immune system
Your immune system determines the ability of your body to defend itself against illness. Proven ways to improve your immune health, and lower your chances of getting sick, include:
- Reduce stress levels. Stress management techniques, such as regular exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones can help.
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, which is linked to immune health.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, which can inhibit immune function and recovery.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense foods.
Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in your immune health. People who are chronically sleep-deprived are more at risk for developing illness, and require longer recovery times than those who get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
Avoid being around those who are feeling unwell in order to lessen your chances of catching an illness. And when you can, try to avoid crowds.
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